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US Coast Guard says Texas barge collision may have spilled up to 2,000 gallons of oil

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Early estimates indicate up to 2,000 gallons of oil may have spilled into surrounding waters when a barge carrying fuel broke free from a tugboat and slammed into a bridge near Galveston, Texas, the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

The barge crashed into a pillar supporting the Pelican Island Causeway span on Wednesday. The impact caused the bridge to partially collapse and cut off the only road connecting Galveston to Pelican Island, the Coast Guard said.

Video shows splotches of oil had spilled from the barge into Galveston Bay. Jeff Davis of the Texas General Land Office said during a news conference Thursday that early cleanup efforts have not identified any impacted wildlife.

The barge has the capacity to hold 30,000 barrels, but was holding 23,000 barrels — approximately 966,000 gallons — when it struck the bridge, Rick Freed, the vice president of barge operator Martin Marine, said at the news conference. Freed said the only tank that was compromised in the crash was holding approximately 160,000 gallons, which is the “complete risk.”

“We’re pretty confident there was much less oil introduced to the water than we initially estimated,” Coast Guard Capt. Keith Donohue said.

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